Chef’s Plate: An Honest Mixed-Feeling Review

Last night, we gave Chef’s Plate a try.  Someone provided us with a coupon and I thought the discount might make the convenience worth it.  We chose two meals for 4 people, all delivered in an insulated box with a ton of reusable ice packs right to our deck.  The two meals we chose were Spicy Thai Peanut Pork Noodles and Tandoori Chicken Naan Wraps.  We started with the noodles.

All the ingredients from our Chef’s Plate meal – Spicy Thai Peanut Pork Noodles

J. came into the kitchen after I started prep and quickly took over using the easy to follow directions card.  The meal was extremely tasty, but not anything we couldn’t pull together using our own ingredients by the time you wash, chop, mix, and cook.  I’m sure Just will add the recipe card to his growing collection. We enjoyed it. Kaleb (surprise, surprise) did not approve.

My thoughts on the meal as a whole was that a 4-person kit could easily have made 8 portions for our family.  Served as instructed, each meal was a whopping 1120 calories and 80g of net carbs.  Yikes.  I trimmed back to make 6 portions and eliminated some of the oil and eggs called for and I believe my plate still came to approximately 746 calories and I was somewhere between well-sated to uncomfortably full.  (Still yikes!). Divided into 8 portions, it’s slightly more manageable at approximately 550-560 calories per serving.

If I were to prepare this meal from scratch, some small substitutions would include switching out the chow mein noodles for a whole wheat or veggie noodle.  I’d reduce the amount of peanuts on top, and I’d probably add in some extra veg.  I’d also cut way back on the ground pork or – hear me out – eliminate it completely.  It wasn’t extremely necessary from a taste point of view and with the eggs, nuts, and nut butter, the dish had plenty of protein for a single meal.

From a budget point of view, I didn’t find it overly ridiculous WITH THE COUPON – dinner and leftovers costing approx. $15 for the meal.  And there are plenty of leftovers for three of us.  Seven servings at just over $2 per plate is pretty hard to complain about.  At full price, I’m not sure it would make the cut.  Sure, not having to think about dinner was fantastic AND it was simple enough for a young chef to follow along.  Plus, they delivered the box right to my door… but for slightly more than the actual cost of $35 a meal, I could feed the family with takeout from a local restaurant and not have to do any prep or cooking.

Final conclusion… if you want the home cooked experience without having to hit a grocery store or think about what’s for dinner, this might be worth it.  I am going to prepare our second meal before my menu cut off for next week and see if it feeds us as amply as the noodles did.  I may try to cut back to a 2 person menu next week and see if we can stretch that to accomodate all of us and cut back on calories and cost.  There’s lots to consider, but for two easy meals this week at a discount, I think it was a win.  Full price? I’m not sure it will be worth it for us.

TLDR: The food was tasty and fresh. Directions were easy to follow. Nothing that you couldn’t do yourself with some meal planning and a grocery list. Likely too rich (expensive) for a regular commitment from this family.

If you would like to check out Chef’s Plate for yourself and form your own opinions, I have a coupon code to make your first week a little more budget friendly.  Copy and paste referral code HS-UQG4Z1KJR at www.chefsplate.com for $40 off your order, and a $40 credit for me. Sharing is caring.  If you do select a box to try, let me know in the comments if you agree with my review.

Meal Plan Monday: November 18 Edition

My kids are heading out to more ‘things’ in the evening and this seems to cover the dinner hour – no appeasing two different appetites on these nights (impossible!) I count that as a win. However, the driving back and forth doesn’t seem like a win and Kevin’s been working erratically “late” some evenings. Even when I meal plan, things seem like a bust – and it’s often on the fly.

I do, however, continue to try. I dont always share our menu or mealplan because I don’t often feel its remarkable or that I’m successful in sticking to it. Despite that, every week I have at least a loose plan going in before I tackle the groceries. Making things interesting is the desire to clean up my freezer/cupboard/fridge. My in-laws leave us with their freezer contents every time they winter in Florida. We have so. much. pork. at the moment. It helps with my grocery bill, but I come to a halt in creativity while still trying to find balance.

This afternoon, the boys headed to a paint party. They are literally painting the walls of a new youth room and the leaders are buying pizza. Kevin and I had tomato soup I found buried in the forgotten corner of the freezer. I served it with a fried egg, salami (there were 2 slices left), and cheese on some slightly freezer-burnt toasted English muffins. Gourmet dinner it was not. Curbed the hunger? Absolutely. Wednesday will most likely be another day I can cull the fridge of leftovers as I’ll be on my own. Or perhaps I’ll indulge, and grab takeout mango salad on the way home.

Here’s the rest of our menu for the week:

  • steak, potatoes, caesar salad, and carrot sticks
  • crockpot pork roast with rice and broccoli slaw
  • pulled pork tacos
  • slow cooker jambalaya (minus the shrimp) – I’ll be giving this recipe a try for the first time and using turkey sausage
  • dinner for 1 (soup, leftovers, or takeout)
  • Spinach and chicken pasta

What do you prepare when you’re cooking for one? How do you deal with fluctuating schedules and last-minute change of plans while still cooking at home? Share your wisdom, please! We want to know what works for other families.

Meal Plan Monday: June 4th Edition

I realise this doesn’t qualify as Meal Plan Monday considering I’m posting it on a Tuesday, but the menu was prepared well in advance of yesterday.

It’s hard to believe we’re trying up the first half of 2019! Besides reading a tidy amount of books, I’m not too sure we’ve accomplished anything if significance.

Back to the posting on a Tuesday… Yesterday I packed 7 hours of work into 4.5 hours, then spent my afternoon in the chilly sunshine cheering on our 8th grader. As a runner, he qualified for the area meet (track and field) of the northern schools in our district. He managed to place third in his 200m finals. He ran his heart out in his other events and this mama couldn’t be prouder!

Unfortunately, by the time this mama got home she was on the verge of a migraine and hid in her bed for quite some time. This means we took a shortcut to meal prep… as in Kev picked up dinner on his way home.

Here is our illustrious menu:

  • Deli chicken meal (yesterday)
  • Oven-baked wings, fries, and fresh veggies
  • Taco salad
  • Beef dip sandwiches and salad
  • Beef “poutine” and salad
  • Veggie pasta skillet
  • Leftovers

Here’s to a few more short weeks of lunch-packing and sunny afternoons with a picnic in the park!

Meal Plan Monday: May 6 Edition

I have been feeling a little exhausted the last few weeks – we’ve been juggling a lot and trying to stay balanced. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve cried a few times just to let the excess of internal pressure out. We’ve also eaten out a few too many times and I realise that while I enjoy the break from the kitchen, too much not-home-cooked food doesn’t help with managing stress or emotions.

I thought the HelloFresh box with 3 meals last week may have helped take some of the thought and prep work out of home-cooked, but alas, I was terribly disappointed. Our one meal was bland and the meat was tough, the other was absolutely no different than picking up our own groceries and prepping from scratch, and the final is awaiting a verdict. Definitely not a plan that we’ll continue.

This weekend – if you don’t count the fact that our basement floor was soaking wet because our pump failed – was fairly relaxed. We visited with family (late night, lots of laughs!), spent some time mopping up some excess water downstairs, hung out in the local laundry mat, church… and an art tour with a friend. It was busy, but not stressful – and the sun was shining – yay!

Our menu for this week still has some convenience meals, and a night out for Chinese buffet as we celebrate our youngest son’s 12th birthday! Here is what’s on the docket:

  • Butter chicken with rice and/or naan
  • Stir fry
  • Subs (at home)
  • Thai chicken wings, home fries, and salad
  • Taco salad

How do you celebrate birthdays? Favourite meal? Choice of restaurant? Lots of family and friends? We always let them pick a restaurant and as they get older, a laid back no-plan kind of party with friends a bit later.

Meal Plan Monday: April 22nd Edition

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Mine was made perfect because Mom hosted a brunch (my favourite!) And dinner (not my favourite. I don’t love big family dinner. I’m weird. I think it’s because at heart I’m not a meat and potatoes girl and that’s what holiday dinners always seem to be.) The actual reason it was perfect though was all the baby cuddling… and I could still eat one handed, niece tucked in on my left (almost – the waffles were tricky.)

It’s so nice out today and I lost track of time. Dinner will be takeout pizza because I’m kind of done. Meh. Whatever.

The rest of our menu for the week is planned a bit better:

  • Carnitas nachos
  • Pulled pork “shepherds pie”
  • Canelloni
  • Crepes
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Stir-fry

All the above served with salad, fruits, and/or fresh veggies. I really can’t wait for some of my garden veggies to mature! The walking onions are just finally starting to poke through.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner… or Chicken Fajita Bake

I have a love/hate relationship with chicken. I am generally a fan – until I go to bake it. Then I tend to overcook it and it just tastes like dry, bland ickiness. Even though I enjoy the kitchen (some days more than others), I’m not the world’s best cook. When I find a recipe that works, it gets added to the rotation. Usually that means 3 out of 4 of us approve. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t take the oldest son’s opinions to heart because he has a remarkably limited palate. When we get 4 out of 4 two-thumbs up, I’m ecstatic for days.

While browsing Pinterest a few weeks ago, I saw a chicken fajita casserole with cream of soup and cheesy rice. It looked delicious, but I was wanting something a little lighter tonight. This was a use-what’s-on-hand dinner using the basic fajita ingredients. (Authentic? Absolutely not. Maybe calling it fajita-inspired is a better way of phrasing it.) It’s not anything new, I’m sure – we’ve made basic variations of this and it closely resembles my bruschetta chicken (that I haven’t had in much too long!) The chicken was moist and flavourful, the veggies weren’t soggy or gross. I’m listing the recipe as I made it – which fed three of us a good-portioned dinner, left Kevin with leftovers for lunch, and an extra breast & a half to use in quesadillas.

Chicken Fajita BakE
Ingredients:

  • 1 package boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs (I used a 5 pack of breasts)
  • 2 bell peppers (we had green on hand, but I think red would be even more delicious!)
  • 1 large onion (I used a red onion, but white would be fine)
  • 2 tomatoes – optional
  • fajita seasoning (to taste)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese, monterey jack or cheddar

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a casserole dish.
  2. Cut your veggies into thin strips and mix. (Your tomatoes can be cut into wedges or large diced)
  3. Place chicken breasts in the pan and sprinkle with fajita seasoning. (I honestly don’t use “fajita seasoning” but just come up with a concoction that at least contains oregano, cumin, chili powder, and cumin. Sorry – that’s not helpful – “season to taste.”)
  4. Add your veggie mix.
  5. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a safe internal temperature is reached and chicken is cooked through.
  7. Serve on tortillas, rice, or a bed of spinach, if desired. (We used a spanish pilaf I found in the back of the cupboard and it was delicious!)

This meal smelled so delicious and we were so hungry when it came out of the oven that it was devoured before I took pictures! A stock photo it is and I’ll update the next time we prepare it. It’s my favourite kind of recipe – little prep time, and no thought once I popped it into the oven so I could concentrate on folding socks (or playing Homescapes.)

Meal Plan Monday: April 15th Edition

Lucky you! You get two doses of my ramblings today. I just have so much to say, but don’t always find the time to say it. It is April 15th and in our little corner of the world we got to enjoy some 0°C weather with some wind, snow, and rain. Yay spring! I have some seedlings started and am having a hard time reconciling a need for a coat and my urge to garden.

This week’s meal plan is not very creative in that I’m not attempting anything new. It is creative in that I’m tackling some of the leftovers found in my freezer and crisper drawer to create a yummy menu and pared down grocery list. We should be covered for dinners, but breakfast and lunch ingredients are pretty slim and the boys’ lunch bags did not contain any semblance of well-roundedness this morning.

Here is our forecasted menu for the week:

  • Chicken Fajita Bake
  • Chicken Quesadillas
  • Spaghetti
  • Pesto Tortellini
  • Stirfry
  • Soup(s)

Of course we’ll accompany the meals with salads or veggies on the side as needed. I haven’t planned a full week and may have to break out the KD and hot dogs. The kids will love it, but I’ll probably opt for a smoothie that night.

Meal Plan Monday: April 8th Edition

The week has gone by pretty smoothly and I’m feeling much more human. This translates into a full grocery shop ($$$) and an actual meal plan. Home cooked meals with a little bit of thought will be happening – no excuses.

Except… I have to drag the boys to the mall tonight and bribery helps us all stay sane. They’ve been given the choice of food court dinner as a treat. One will mostly pick KFC and the other will go with Taco Bell. (Why? I don’t know – there are so many better options!)

The rest of the week looks like this:

  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • French Dip Sandwiches
  • Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers (using the leftover beef)
  • Cheddar & Broccoli-stuffed Chicken Breasts
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Soup & Salad (variety to be determined)

As the weather hovers above zero, I’m antsy to use the grill. Unfortunately it needs more maintenance than I’m capable of or knowledgeable about. It’ll be a task added to the honey-do list. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll be throwing on a flatbread, some red peppers, and eagerly waiting for peaches to be in season!

What are your favourite summertime barbecue recipes beyond the burger?

Meal Plan Monday: March 25th Edition

My kids are home and they snack a lot. So much. I do groceries (carefully planned out), put them away, and poof, the food is gone. I suspect some growth spurts are to blame. Youngest son is currently eating melba toast, after he packed away an apple, a greek yogurt, and a Tim Horton’s cookie treat. He’ll demolish a full plate of food at dinner too. My metabolism doesn’t understand this. At. All.

This week’s menu was pre-planned and I kept in budget. That’s hard to do for me…especially with extra people shopping alongside. My secret was using the PC Express shopping option. I paid for convenience, but my cart didn’t contain impulse buys. Score 1 for Lindsey. Left on the list:

  • cashew veggie stir fry
  • breakfast for dinner (Kaleb’s pick)
  • tortellini with pesto, spinach and broccoli
  • corned beef, potatoes, carrots
  • corned beef on rye with tomato jalapeno soup
  • chicken, steamed broccoli, waffle cut carrots, and scalloped potatoes (Justin’s pick)

I also have a package of peameal bacon in the freezer and soup ingredients on hand for backup. Kev suggested I pick up a skillet freezer meal because he knows there will be at least one day that doesn’t go to plan where I’m home later than expected and have to rush out again shortly after dinner – anyone can pull it out and prepare it. It’s a cheaper option than pizza… plus easy to include extra veggies! I appreciate that he doesn’t *need* me to cook all the time and that he recognizes that my time is important too. #teamgoals

What are your quickest healthy meal options for the days you forget to take something from the freezer or don’t find time to prep?

Recipe Test: Korean Beef Sloppy Joes via Dinner Then Dessert

I stumbled across a Korean Beef Sloppy Joe recipe from Sabrina at Dinner Then Dessert a few weeks ago and thought it might be the perfect burger replacement in our meal rotation without the taste of a typical sloppy joe – which I honestly don’t love. I loved the idea of added extra of veggies that might work for my sometimes picky eaters. (This idea failed as the pickiest one actually requested that if I make this again, I serve the veggies on the side…. so no mom-win there.)

While I prepped the veggies and started sauteeing the meat, J. (our eleven year old) started measuring out the ingredients for the sauce. It all came together nicely and made more sloppy joe filling than we needed. (Ideas on how to use the leftovers?) Overall, no major complaints (aside from the hidden veggies) and J. took a strange pride in this very tasty sauce.

The only change we made to the original recipe is that I added some ginger paste (the kind that comes in a tube) for a little extra punch. For vegetables, I included 2 shredded carrots, finely chopped red onion, and finely chopped red pepper (half of each that were sitting in my fridge leftover from our omelettes this morning.) I tossed in a few handfuls of baby spinach for extra greens and used extra garlic because my cloves were tiny – also you can never have too much garlic. We served our sloppy joes on toasted ACE classic buns with sliced cucumbers on the side.

While I’d love to share the actual recipe with you here, I’m going to respect the original copyright and instead send you over to the original post – credit where credit is due and all that… plus she has the nutrition info posted if you’re concerned about that!

If you give this meal a try, let me know your thoughts and variations and be sure to share your comments under the original recipe as well. As for us, I’ll keep it in our rotation and probably use the sauce for other tasty concoctions. It rates pretty high for dinner satisfaction (aka lack of complaints) – a hard achievement when my two ridiculous boys can never agree on a meal!